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Beyond the Obvious: Tensions and Volitions Surrounding the Contributions of Universities to Regional Development and Innovation1

Beyond the Obvious: Tensions and Volitions Surrounding the Contributions of Universities to Regional Development and Innovation1
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Author(s): Rómulo Pinheiro (University of Agder, Norway), Paul Benneworth (University of Twente, The Netherlands) and Glen A. Jones (University of Toronto, Canada)
Copyright: 2015
Pages: 23
Source title: Handbook of Research on Global Competitive Advantage through Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Luís M. Carmo Farinha (Polytechnic Institute of Castelo Branco & NECE – Research Unit, Portugal), João J. M. Ferreira (University of Beira Interior & NECE – Research Unit, Portugal), Helen Lawton Smith (Birkbeck, University of London & Oxfordshire Economic Observatory, Oxford University, UK) and Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen (State University of New York – Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8348-8.ch010



There is a general tendency amongst policy and certain academic circles to assume that universities are simple strategic actors capable and willing to respond to a well-articulated set of regional demands. In reality, however, universities are extremely complex organizations that operate in highly institutionalized environments and are susceptible to regulative shifts, resource dependencies, and fluctuations in student numbers. Understanding universities' contributions—and capacities to contribute—to regional development and innovation requires understanding these internal dynamics and how they interact with external environmental agents. Based on a comparative study across various national settings and regional contexts, the chapter highlights the types of tensions and volitions that universities face while attempting to fulfil their “third mission.” Building upon the existing literature and novel empirical insights, the chapter advances a new conceptual model for opening the “black box” of the university-region interface and disentangling the impacts of purposive, political efforts to change universities' internal fabrics and to institutionalize the regional mission.

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